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- The Physiology of Taste - 47/49 -
After some hesitation d'Albignac consented, and having set seriously to work, did his best.
While he was making his mixture, he replied frankly to questions about his condition, and my friend owned, not without a little blushing, that he received the aid of the English government, a circumstance which doubtless induced one of the young men to slip a ten pound bank bill into his hand.
He gave them his address, and not long after, was much surprised to receive a letter inviting him to come to dress a salad at one of the best houses in Grosvenor square.
D'Albignac began to see that he might draw considerable benefit from it, and did not hesitate to accept the offer. He took with him various preparations which he fancied would make his salad perfect as possible.
He took more pains in this second effort, and succeeded better than he had at first. On this occasion so large a sum was handed to him that he could not with justice to himself refuse to accept it.
The young men he met first, had exaggerated the salad he had prepared for them, and the second entertainment was yet louder in its praise. He became famous as "the fashionable salad-maker," and those who knew anything of satirical poetry remembered:
Desir do nonne est un feu pui devore,
Desir d'Anglaise est cent fois piri encore.
D'Albignac, like a man of sense, took advantage of the excitement, and soon obtained a carriage, that he might travel more rapidly from one part of the town to the other. He had in a mahogany case all the ingredients he required.
Subsequently he had similar cases prepared and filled, which he used to sell by the hundred.
Ultimately he made a fortune of 80,000 francs, which he took to France when times became more peaceful.
When he had returned to France, he did not hurry to Paris, but with laudable precaution, placed 60,000 francs in the funds, and with the rest purchased a little estate, on which, for aught I know, he now lives happily. His funded money paid him fifty per cent.
These facts were imparted to me by a friend, who had known D 'Albignac in London, and who had met him after his return.
RECOLLECTIONS OF THE EMIGRATION.
In 1794, M. de Rostaing, my cousin and friend, now military intendant at Lyons, a man of great talent and ability, and myself were in Switzerland.
We went to Mondon, where I had many relations, and was kindly received by the family of Troillet. I will never forget their hospitality.
I was there shown a young French officer who was a weaver, and who became one thus:--
This young man, a member of a very good family, was passing through Mondon, to join Condes army, and chanced to meet an old man with one of the animated heads usually attributed by painters to the companions of the famous Tell.
At their dessert, the officer did not conceal his situation, and received much sympathy from his new friend. The latter complained that at such an age, he had now to renounce all that was pleasant, and that every man should, as Jean Jacques, says, have some trade to support themselves in adversity.
The conversation paused there; and a short time after, he joined the army of Conde. From what he saw there, however, he saw he never could expect to enter France in that way.
Then he remembered the words of the weaver; and finally making up his mind, left the army, returned to Mondon, and begged the weaver to receive him as an apprentice.
On the next day the officer set to work, dining and sleeping with the weaver, and was so assiduous, that after six months, his master told him, he had nothing to teach him, thought himself repaid for the care he had bestowed, and that all he earned henceforth was his own profit.
When I was at Mondon, the new artisan had earned money enough to purchase a shop and a bed. He worked with great assiduity, and such interest was taken in him, that some of the first houses of the city enquired after him every day.
On Sunday, he wore his uniform, and resumed his social rights. As he was very well read, all took pleasure in his company, and he did not seem discontented with his fate.
To this picture of the advantage of industry, I am about to add an altogether different one.
I met at Lausanne, an emigre from Lyons, who to avoid work used to eat but twice a week. He would have died beyond a doubt, if a merchant in the city had not promised to pay for his dinner every Sunday, and Wednesday of the week.
The emigre came always at the appointed time, and always took away a large piece of bread.
He had been living in this manner some three months, when I met him; he had not been sick, but he was so pale that it was sad to see him.
I was amazed that he would suffer such pain rather than work. I asked him once to dine with me, but did not repeat the invitation because I believe in obeying that divine precept, "By the sweat of thy brow shalt thou earn thy bread."
SOJOURN IN AMERICA.
From Switzerland I went to America.
* * * * * * *
Passing one day in February, by the Palais Royal, I paused before the shop of Mme Chevet, the largest dealer in comestibles in Paris, who always wished me well. Seeing a large box of asparagus, the smallest of which was large as my finger, I asked the price. "Forty francs," said she. "They are very fine, but only a king or prince could eat at such a rate." "You are wrong sir," said she, "such things never go to palaces, but I will sell the asparagus.
"There are now in this city at least three hundred rich men, capitalists and financiers, retained at home by gout, colds, and doctors. They are always busy to ascertain what will revive them and send their valets out on voyages of discovery. Some one of them will remark this asparagus, and it will be bought. It may be, some pretty woman will pass with her lover, and say, 'what fine asparagus. How well my servant dresses it.' The lover then does not hesitate, and I will tell you a secret, that dear things are sold more easily than cheap ones."
As she spoke two fat Englishmen passed us. They seemed struck at once. One seized hold of the asparagus and without asking the price paid for it, and as he walked away whistled "God save the King."
"Monsieur," said Madame Chevet, "a thousand things like this happen every day."
Fondue is a soup dish, and consists only in frying eggs in cheese in proportions revealed by experience. I will give the recipe. It is a pleasant dish, quickly made and easily prepared for unexpected guests. I refer to it here only for my peculiar pleasure, and because it preserves the memory of things which the old men of Belley recollect.
Towards the end of the 17th century M. Madot became bishop of Belley, and took possession of the diocese.
Those to whom his reception had been confided had provided an entertainment worthy of the occasion, and made use of all the preparations then known in the kitchen, to welcome my lord.
There was an immense fondue, to which the prelate paid great attention; to the surprise of all he ate it with a spoon, instead of a fork, as people had been used to do.
All the guests looked at each other with a perceptible smile on every face. A bishop from Paris, however, must know how to eat. On the next day there was a great deal of gossip, and people that met at the corners, said "Well did you see how our bishop ate his fondue? I heard from a person who was present that he used a spoon!"
The bishop had some followers, innovators who preferred the spoon, but the majority preferred the fork, and an old grand-uncle of mine used to laugh as if he would die, as he told how M. de Madot ate fondue with a spoon.
RECIPE FOR FONDUE, COPIED FROM THE PAPERS OF M. TROLLET, BAILLI OF MONDON IN BERNE.
Calculate the number of eggs in proportion to the guests.
Take one-third of the weight of Gruyere and one-sixth of the weight of butter.
Beat the eggs and mingle them with the butter and cheese in a
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